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Deciphering Taliban's message to India

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April 30, 2006 19:19 IST

The greatest threat to India is the non-liberal ideology prevalent in Afghanistan. The killing on Sunday of K Suryanarayana, the Indian engineer, is a result of Islamic terrorism, in which Pakistan has also been involved for many years.

It's wrong to assume that the security risk to India and Indians abroad has increased after India has become a close ally of the United States. The killing of Indians by the Taliban in Afghanistan is not because of the India-US relationship. The truth is that India has been a target of the pan-Islamic network long before it fostered close ties with the US.

In 2000, a statement from Osama bin Laden named India as an enemy of Islam. As per the information we have, militants from over 18 countries have join the Taliban's 'battle for Kashmir'.

Ask yourself why Suryanarayana was killed. I, for one, do not think negotiations would have made any difference because when the Taliban kidnaps someone, they are meant to die. It is a ruthless organisation, which never wants to concede, so let us not imagine that they were ready to negotiate with the Indian government.

The message from Suryanarayana's abduction and killing is clear - India must vacate Afghanistan and must not help the Afghan people in their country's development. Match this with Pakistan's covert messages -- through diplomatic channels -- that it wants to neutralise and negate all that India is doing in Afghanistan.

Taliban is a proxy of Pakistan in the politics of development of Afghanistan and, therefore, Suryanarayana was killed by a proxy of Pakistan.

Pakistan, which will face a bleak future if India has an important role in a developed Afghanistan, is helping the Taliban grow because it desperately needs strength in that country.

Of course, the loss to Suryanarayana's family is tremendous but one must not lose context while sympathising. Television channels have repeatedly been showing her mourning but where were these cameras while Islamic jihadists were killing innocent Indians and security forces in Kashmir and elsewhere in India?

But when you see this family weep, the message of fear spreads. And the Taliban have done this precisely to have the threat played out in India. The hostage situation brings out fear and tension, which is the essence of their terrorist acts.

But we must not surrender. Remember the heavy price India is still paying when terrorist Masood Azhar was released in return for the hostages of IC-814.

Instead of being angry with the government, Indians must back its activities in Afghanistan. We must not lose focus and run away because for how long can we do that? It would be better to stay there and fight back.

(Dr Ajay Sahni, executive director, Institute for Conflict Management, spoke to Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi)

Dr Ajay Sahni, Institute for Conflict Management
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